Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan are close friends – enough that they often refer to each other as ‘brothers.’ The two always have something positive to say to one another – in and off the basketball court. 

However, apart from what they say in public – the two ballers’ friendship is shrouded in a net of privacy. And they’ve kept that up for years, which has done their relationship good.

Jordan’s closeness to Bryant is probably one of the reasons why he was chosen to induct the latter into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame – on May 15, Saturday (May 16 in PH Time). 

But even though they have kept the minute details of their friendship under the radar for years, Jordan is now sharing a glimpse into his friendship with the ‘Black Mamba,’ who passed away more than a year ago in a deadly helicopter crash that also ended the life of his daughter Gianna and six others. 

In an interview with ESPN – a few days before Bryant’s induction ceremony – Jordan shared the last conversation he had with his ‘little brother.’ 

“This tequila is awesome,” Kobe texted, who was referring to Jordan’s recently launched Cincoro Tequila.

“Thank you, my brother,” Jordan responded.

“Yes, sir. Family good?” Kobe replied.

“All good. Yours?”

“All good.”

According to Jordan, Bryant was starting to warm up to the idea of his retirement before his untimely passing – spending time with his wife Vanessa and his daughters. He also mentioned Bryant’s interest in coaching, especially when it comes to his daughter Gianna.

“He was really into coaching Gigi. So, I hit him up about that,” Jordan shared. 

“Happy holidays,” Jordan messaged back, “and hope to catch up soon. Coach Kobe??!”

“I added that little crying/laughing emoji,” he said while chuckling.

“Ah, back at you, man,” Kobe texted. “Hey, coach, I’m sitting on the bench right now, and we’re blowing this team out. 45-8.”

“I just love that text because it shows Kobe’s competitive nature,” Jordan noted.

A little more than a week after that back and forth, Bryant learned that he was officially nominated for the Hall of Fame as a first-ballot entry. But a month and 19 days later – his life was cut short at just 41 years old. 

Jordan admitted that the idea of reminiscing his friendship with Bryant at Saturday’s ceremony will cause tears to well up. However, he no longer sees it as something to be anxious about – rather he’s looking forward to it. 

“I was thinking, at first, I might be a little somewhat nervous about it, but then I realized I’m not going to be nervous about showing emotions for someone I absolutely loved,” Jordan said.

“That’s the humanistic side of me—people tend to forget I do have one,” he added. 

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Image credit: Vincent Laforet / AFP via Getty Images